Mayor Rhodes-Conway: How Madison is Responding to COVID-19

submitted by Dave Mollenhoff

Satya+Rhodes+ConwayIn Rotary’s first live Zoom meeting, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, against a backdrop of red tulips and the capitol dome, provided a comprehensive 30-minute overview of Madison’s responses to COVID-19.

“Our goal,” she began, “is to keep people safe, reduce the number of COVID-19 infections, and not overburden our health care facilities.  Our initial focus was to help the most vulnerable, especially the homeless and those faced by food insecurity.”

To achieve that goal, she said the City has taken dozens of steps. One third of city employees are teleworking, most city committees have been paused, and the City’s IT department is working overtime to facilitate virtual meetings. The library and Monona Terrace are closed. Bus schedules have been changed and riders enter by the back door. Parking regulations have been relaxed so that businesses can provide curb service.

“But be warned,” she continued, “the economic impact of the pandemic will be drastic.”  It has inflicted substantial increased operational costs and we have already lost $35 million in revenue, so coming up with a balanced budget will be incredibly challenging.

She reminded everyone that our extraordinary parks system is open and available with only a few new restrictive policies.  Then she added wistfully, “How I wish I had time to get out there and enjoy them. In fact, I spend so much time attending Zoom meetings that my Fitbit thinks I’m dead.”

The mayor ended her talk about a long list of “hard and depressing” topics with hope and optimism.  “Madison,” she reminded everyone, “is amazing, and I believe we will emerge with a city that is more accessible, equitable, sustainable and affordable.”

Club member Jason Ilstrup provided a spirited introduction and posed members’ questions to the mayor at the end.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

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